The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau
This review originally appeared in slightly different form at BDSM Book Reviews.
In this work of speculative fiction, people with enough money and the right connections can buy anything, including their own personal sex slaves. The Flesh Cartel is a super-secret, highly organized group that supplies these human cattle. They take people nobody will really miss and transform them into the perfect slave. “The Flesh Cartel” series follows two brothers as they are taken and processed through the cartel’s machinery.
Note that this is a serial publication. Serialization is the latest thing in ebook publishing right now, although it’s an idea as old as mass printing. Many of the great classic authors, like Dickens, originally had their works published in serial form a hundred years ago. Back then, printing a small chunk of a book at a time made it more affordable to the mass market. In today’s market, where most consumers are loath to pay more than 5.99 for a full length novel in ebook form, publishers are hoping that they’ll willingly pay 2.99 each for the same work in eight or a dozen installments. It’s great for the authors, hopefully, but it really requires that they make every installment, and especially the first one, engrossing enough to make you want to come back for more.
In this first installment, “The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture”, we meet the two brothers, Mat and Dougie. They were orphaned and grew up in foster care. Mat is a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter and works as a bouncer to put Dougie through school, where he’s studying for his PhD in psychology.
For reasons which aren’t made entirely clear in this first installment, Dougie is targeted by the cartel, and Mat is taken as well when he comes home unexpectedly, interrupting the kidnappers. On the long drive to the processing facility, Dougie is repeatedly raped by his kidnappers, while Mat is held in a cage, helpless to stop it. The rape is not described in any great detail, but it’s probably what got this book taken down from Amazon.
Once they arrive at the processing facility, the men are separated, cleaned, checked and ‘documented’ right down to the length of their members as well as the strength of their orgasms. This first book ends with both the men well on the way to being broken, and being led off to their cells in the facility where they will soon start their training.
There’s really very little to this first installment. Half of it is taken up with a very short introduction to the two men, and then their kidnapping. We don’t learn much except that Mat is gay, Dougie is not, and the two care for each other a great deal. Mat, in particular, is fiercely protective of his younger brother. The kidnap and rape of Dougie is brutal, and there’s not much here to give excitement.
The second half of the book recounts the initial processing of the two. Depending on your kinks, there might be some interest here as the men are washed, examined and then stimulated to orgasm. It’s rather clinical and not very sexy. Aside from the rape, there’s no other sexual encounters related in this first installment.
The writing of “The Flesh Cartel” is generally good. There are times when the description of a scene gets a little muddled, but generally not enough to take you out of the action. There are a couple of places where the narrative suddenly shifts to first person for a few sentences and then switches back to third person, which is a bit more jarring. The big question, of course, is whether or not this first installment pulls you in enough to want to read the next one. It’s a close call, but I’d have to say the answer is no, it doesn’t.
You can’t help but be curious about what happens to the men as they’re broken and trained to be slaves, but the authors haven’t done a very good job of really making us care about them enough to need to know what happens to them. The introductions to them and their lives is a little too brief, and even a little depressing. For most of the book, Mat and Dougie are treated as pieces of meat. That’s somewhat intentional, of course, as it’s how the cartel sees them, but the reader needs to see them as more than that. You will pity them, but you won’t necessarily empathize with them enough to really need to know what happens to them.
“The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture” may be purchased from Riptide Publishing.